{photography} FAQ : How Can I Learn Photography?

Recently, I have received many questions from what camera to buy, how to find a good photographer to questions on how to learn photography! Each question builds upon the answer of another so I decided to create a mini FAQ blog series.  There are tons of way to learn photography, tons of cameras to choose from and so many wonderful photographers out there.  In this first post, here are answers to how I would personally approach the questions but keep in mind these are not necessarily set in stone for you!

  1. What and which camera should I buy if I want to learn photography?
    • A camera to a photographer is like a paintbrush to a painter.  It is a tool and not definitive of what would produce a good photograph or photographer.  If a painter does not know how to stipple or use other important paint techniques, would an expensive paintbrush help?  If a painter has no vision of what he wishes to compose for his painting, would an expensive paintbrush make up for lack of creativity.  The same answers apply to whether or not to buy an expensive camera.
    • To learn photography, I would personally buy an entry level mirrorless or DSLR camera with manual shooting capability. Mirrorless cameras are small, easy to carry around and can perform well in many environments.  DSLRs are larger but the handling can feel more sturdy.  My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel but I now photograph with two Sony mirrorless cameras –  the Sony RX1 and Sony a7r – both of which are first generation models of their line.  Newer models exist but I love some of the features retained in the older Sony mirrorless models that are not available in the newer models like the RX1’s built in flash and the super small size of the a7r while offering lens interchangeability.
  2. How can I learn photography?
    • Daily Practice. More important than the camera itself, I would set aside time and commit yourself to learning how to shoot in manual mode as well as composition for whatever camera you buy.  Photography is a combination of art and technical shooting. Learning to shoot in manual mode is the technical component to being a good photographer while learning to compose is the creative component to being a good photographer.  There is no way around it.  Good photography skills as with anything takes time, continuous effort and constant practice.  I completed a Project 365 (photographing daily) for three years before considering my technical skills acceptable at a professional level but even now I still feel that I can practice more!
    • Online Communities. Joining a supportive and encouraging photography forum can help with keeping you inspired to shoot and practice daily as well as offer many resources like workshops, mentoring, critiquing opportunities. Here are a few of my favorite forums:
      • Click & Co.  This is an online forum that began as a small group of moms wanting to capture their children’s every day.  It has since grown into a super supportive community rich in knowledge of all things photography for the novice to those in business for years!
      • illuminate.  A substantive forum for learning about light and documentary style photography.
      • Creative Live.  Founded by Klenna Klosterman whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a newborn photography conference recently.  The encyclopedia of workshops for all genres of photography!
    • Accredited Associations.
    • Mentoring.  Mentoring is invaluable and key to really refining your photography skills.  Mentoring can be found almost everywhere from reaching out to your favorite photographer through Facebook to online forums and networking at photography conferences.
    • Photography Conferences.  Depending on what genre of photography you are interested in, there is a probably a conference for your genre.
      • Click Away.  An incredible photography conference for many genres of photography covering a variety of topics from style, composition, light to capturing emotion and technical camera use.
      • Baby Summit. A Conference for newborn baby and maternity photography that covers posing, lighting, processing, video and much more.
      • Real Life Photography Conference for Women.  The name speaks for itself!